A weekend of two havles, one day of wild conditions, tough for competitors and organisers alike on Saturday, and a mild and sunny Sunday. This timeline of the event and “Wild Saturday” is pieced together from the #gigrowing twitter hashtag feed that was filtering through from the event…
Fri EVE – blue skies, boats and bunting galore. Caradon readies to welcome the 2012 Mixed and Vets Championships. Struggling to keep tents attached to the ground. Given the conditions, no coastal venue would have been usable, and only a handful of estuary based venues able to support the number of competitors.
Saturday – 4am / 5am, competitors embarking for Saltash. Organisers up from about 6am as well. By 7am the bacon sarnies were ready even if it was already pretty windy. Hard enough to keep the BBQ from going out or setting light to the chef and tent. 7:27am very windy now, 3 Rivers Race, earlier in the year was super windy as well, deja vu?
Coxes meeting at 8:30am, realisation that there were 57 races to get through. Prompt starting with first races called up at 9:05am but then a bit of a delay with marks and umpire boats struggling to stay in position. 9:40am, racing underway. Umpire boat 3 was still struggling to stay on station. 11:08am, rain starts to punish the fleet and spectators as well as the wind with races taking between 14 and 16 minutes (with 57 to get through, even with two out at the same time on the course, plus changeover time, we were looking at nearly 12 hours of non-stop racing to complete the racing!).
12:50pm, crews starting to struggle with the conditions. One crew nearly overtaken by the leaders of the following heat. Cold, wet and miserable. So much so that at 1pm, race mark #3 decides it’s had enough and heads off up river to fresh pastures. By 1:50pm, a 3 mark course had been rebuilt, organisers working to keep the racing going but as it is a knock-out tournament and not time based (thankfully on this occasion!), it was possible to use both a 2-turn and 3-turn course.
2:52pm, made it through to the mixed 1/4 finals. Flatter waters but no following wind AND tide. Very fast for any crew to get to the first mark and a hugh fight to get back to the finish line. 2:55pm “F*ck Caradon”. Oh dear, toys out of pram?
4:24pm, semi finals completed and finals coming soon. But, interesting decision to expand final mixed fleet to 8 boats.
7:13pm. Yes, nearly 11 hours on from that cooked bacon fuelled cox’s meeting, the finals were complete. 7:30pm Mount’s Bay emerge as mixed champions 2012 after hard racing, poor conditions and bad luck (for some). The day was likened to like rowing on a treadmill – anyone up for warm, dry, indoor team rowing?! No, thought not…
Sunday – 10am. First men’s veterans races under way, going with form with wins from Flushing & Mylor, Roseland, Mounts Bay and a strong Ilfracombe showing Caradon the way. Light breezes, strong sunshine, drums and pipes as the background – is this really the same place as yesterday?
Mount’s Bay take the ladies veterans, cementing their win on the Friday of WPGC2012. Ilfracome proving a crew to watch and again see off Caradon men’s veterans in the semi finals. Flushing & Mylor and Roseland both take semi-final wins.
Men’s veterans final was going to be close run with a following wind and tide, especially to the first mark. Draw puts Flushing & Mylor in lane 1 on Devon side, then Roseland, Mounts Bay A, Caradon, Mounts Bay B and Ilfracome in the inside track lane 6 berth. Blast off and in no time at all the crews approach the first mark, Mounts Bay B struggling with the pace, Flushing & Mylor on the outside of the turn in 5th. Roseland and Ilfracombe clash at the mark, and in a normal non-tidal race they would have simply held up the rest of the fleet as they fought for position.
The trouble is, on the Tamar a clash is immediately cleared from the turn mark by a flood tide like driftwood sliding by. Tthe sharp thinking Caradon coxswain could see this situation developing and held off to avoid the melee then turn in quickly as the wreckage ahead cleared the mark. Roseland would later be disqualified for the mark 1 rounding. The 2nd mark had much the same state of play, Caradon now leading, Ilfracombe, Roseland and Mounts Bay A close behind, then Flushing & Mylor and Mounts Bay B. Mark 3 saw Flushing & Mylor cox spot a gap and use the power of the crew to accelerate against the inrushing tide. Flushing & Mylor could now open up and overtook Roseland and Ilfracome, then, settle briefly before again pushing past Mounts Bay A. Just Caradon to catch, maybe 3 lengths clear, was there enough of the race left? Flushing & Mylor closing with every stroke, Caradon beginning to rate higher and higher. In the end Flushing & Mylor ran out of time despite closing right into the stern of Caradon. An exciting and close final, these crews are very well matched. Congratulations to Caradon!
Overall & fallout - Saltash Council and Caradon Gig Club work hard to put on these championships and running at the same time as the Saltash regatta and all the various stalls and food outlets really add to a festival atmoshpere. But, Saturday was a challenge and mistakes of varying sizes were made that need to be rectified before this event is run again next year. Organisational staffing and tempers of all concerned (competitors and organisers) were stretched by the hostile conditions as much as anything but following a quick interview on Sunday, Caradon Gig Club are well aware of the various problems and will be working hard to put changes and contingencies in place for MVC2013 – see you there for what will no doubt be light winds, small tides and racing as close as ever!
From this weekend’s mixed and veterans championships.
Mixed Vets Plate Final : Paignton / Looe / Clevedon.
Mixed Plate Final : Cattewater B, Cothele Quay C, Pendeen, Devoran.
Juniors Plate Final : Cothele Quay A, Calstock, Cothele Quay B, Looe B.
Mixed Juniors Final : Caradon A, Fowey, Coverack, Caradon B, Looe A, Tamar / Tavy.
Mixed Supervets Final : Salcombe, Swanage, Helford, Lyme Regis, Rame, Torridge.
Mixed Vets Final : Caradon, Helford A, Cattewater, Zennor, Salcombe, Helford B.
Mixed Final : Mounts Bay A, Caradon A, Par Bay, Looe A, Falmouth, Cattewater, Caradon B, Teign A.
Mens Supervets Plate Final : Clevedon, Rame, Tamar / Tavy, Lyme Regis.
Ladies Vets Plate Final : Bristol A, Cattewater, Torridge, Mounts Bay.
Mens Vets Place Final : Bude, Bideford, Swanage, Bristol.
Ladies Supervets Final : Fowey A, Salcombe, Dart, Tamar / Tavy, Lyme Regis, Rame, Fowey B.
Mens Supervets Final : Helford, Caradon, Salcombe, Swanage.
Ladies Vets Final : Mounts Bay, Ilfracombe, Newquay, Swanage, Caradon, Teign A.
Mens Vets Final : Caradon, Flushing & Mylor, Ilfracombe, Mounts Bay A, Mounts Bay B, Roseland (DQ).